The “Old Riverlawn School” in Fairview, VA that opened in September 1949 has a new purpose, serving Pulaski County as the present-day facility for the Pulaski Community Youth Center (PCYC). PCYC is dedicated to providing quality educational opportunities to the youth of the NRV. The west wing of the building is scheduled to open in the future to add a full theater with stage, art room, and will be capable of hosting a variety of activities.
By DANIELLE REID
Richard Loveland, Executive Director of the Pulaski Community Youth Center located in Fairlawn, has a multi-purpose plan to help give the NRV youth and their families the necessary tools to prepare for their next step in life.
Loveland, who has executive experience with non-profits and museums in New York City, has been the Executive Director for PCYC for two years, but is familiar with the NRV as a former student at Virginia Tech.
Working from the refurbished old Riverlawn Elementary School, which originally opened in September 1949, Loveland says, “We are still working with the youth – molding lives, giving options, but with a new twist to it that will benefit the community as well as our county’s youth. It is a different world now as compared to 20 years ago. We need to provide students with a completely different skill set, creative and adaptable to solve new sets of problems.”
The heart of the plan is to change the lives of the youth in the county by both helping those immediately in need and creating community solutions to reduce these needs in the future.
To accomplish this the PCYC offers creative opportunities in the areas of Childcare, Recreation, Environmental Programming, Art, Technology and Science, and Education. A Summer Camp program is being planned as well as special events and birthday party celebrations (guidelines permitted).
With the recent granting of its childcare license, the current focus is on elementary age students, but there are options for older students, too. During the day classes, students are connected to their schools via computer and Zoom. The PCYC teachers keep everyone on task and offer tutoring to help the students improve their grades.
“During the day, Monday through Friday, we have between 13 to 20 students ranging in age from five to 12 years of age doing virtual lessons at the Fairlawn PCYC because of COVID related issues. We will be bringing back after school programs soon,” stated Loveland.
Innovative programs include recreation, art, science, music lessons in the classical sense and JAM (Junior Appalachian Musicians), environmental, theatre in conjunction with New River Stage, and a French chef teaching cooking classes for pre-cullinary students.
There is a sliding scale for tuition to help low-income families, but the school is open to any student; and the classes are divided into mini-semesters of six to seven weeks. A $30 fee per semester includes materials, food, etc.
Future plans include opening the west wing of the building. This will offer space for a full theater with stage, a dedicated art room, large multi-purpose room; and complement the existing gym/basketball court, classroom spaces and kitchen areas.
As current businesses expand and new businesses move into the NRV, the need to prepare students to step into new careers will become more prevalent. Loveland credits Phoenix Packaging as the main donor who wants to help create a more vital and informed work force.
“To me, we are ready for that. We have a three-year plan and are looking to provide leadership and create collaborative partnerships with other organizations, businesses and individuals to make this vision a reality,” says Loveland.
Board President Walter Boone is interested in ways to revitalize interest in PCYC and will be providing The Patriot with information about the progress, innovative programs, childcare opportunities, summer camp and opening of the theater in future articles.
To learn more about the PCYC classes and educational opportunities, visit PCYC website, Facebook page or call at: 540-731-4401.
Art and Craft classes with changing/seasonal themes are offered throughout the school year.
Celebrating Our Past, Creating Our Future
The “Old Riverlawn School” in Fairlawn, VA has a long history with Pulaski County that goes back to the early days of World War II. This educational legacy continues through the present day with the emergence of the Pulaski Community Youth Center (PCYC), a facility dedicated to providing quality educational opportunities to the youth of the county and the surrounding area.
The origins of the school building go back to 1940, a time when the world war in Europe and Asia also became a threat to the United States. To help supply much needed ammunition for the war effort an arsenal was built on the banks of the New River. Workers and their families began to flock to the region to work in this new facility. The towns in the surrounding area were not large enough to take care of the tremendous overflow of workers, however, so in the bend of the river across from East Radford a little village sprang up and became known as “Fairlawn.”
In fall of 1945 there were 295 homes in the new Fairlawn community with a student population of 110 students, all of whom were crowded into a two-room school building. In September of 1947 the overcrowding situation had reached a breaking point when 130 citizens assembled in one of the tiny classrooms and voted to begin construction of a new facility on a portion of the old Smith family property. The present PCYC facility now occupies that original building that had opened in September 1949 at a cost of $166,000.
That educational facility served Pulaski County proudly for over 60 years until is closed in 2009 when the “New Riverlawn School” building was constructed just a few short miles away. The old school was “mothballed” until 2016 when the county leased the facility to PCYC to work with youth and their families. After initial planning discussions, cleanup and restoration on the east wing of the building began. Programming started in 2018 with a wide variety of afterschool classes offered. Everything from cooking to woodworking, hiking to dog training were on the schedule. PCYC has since obtained its childcare license and now has additional youth opportunities in virtual daytime classes during the COVID pandemic, Summer Camp programming, as well as special events and birthday party celebrations (guideline permitted).
Soon they will be opening the west wing of the building, doubling their usable public space. This addition includes a full theater with stage, an art room, and a large multi-purpose room that can host a variety of activities including films, youth theater, music and dance classes, and martial arts. These new capabilities will complement the existing gym/basketball court, classroom spaces, and kitchen areas.
As an organization trusted and supported by over 250 members, the Pulaski Community Youth Center (PCYC) takes seriously their responsibilities to the youth of the community. The strategies, plans, and values they have established reflect this responsibility and are designed to make the largest impact they can in the county. The heart of their plan is to change the lives of the youth in the county by both helping those immediately in need, and creating community solutions to reduce these needs in the future. Their plan is bold and is meant to craft a new fabric for youth programming in the county – one that will offer new, CREATIVE opportunities in the areas of Childcare, Recreation, Environmental Programming, Art, Technology and Science, and Education. This combination of themes offers the range of programming for today’s students designed to complement their classroom experiences with hands-on, entertaining, educational building blocks – tools that will help them make thoughtful, CREATIVE, life choices.
PCYC realizes that they cannot accomplish these goals alone. Their three-year plan identifies the need to collaborate with other organizations, businesses, and individuals to make their vision a reality. To achieve their long-term goals it will take a sustained, focused effort over many years. But the end result will forever transform our community.
As in the early days when the Fairlawn Community was established and the “Old” School was constructed, they plan to provide leadership and create collaborative partnerships with the goal of preparing all of our youth for a successful future – one where our young people are ready for school, achieve success during the school years, and ultimately graduate high school ready for their next step in life. In addition, they plan to work with partners to help lift up the families of our youth from poverty, and work with agency partners on programs that will give the county’s youth a healthy start in life, providing them the necessary tools to achieve mental and physical well-being.
For further information on the Pulaski Community Youth Center you can go to their Web site or Facebook page, or give a call at 540-731-4401 if you are interested in learning more about their classes and educational opportunities.